Sunday, May 28, 2006

VH1 Rock Honors Taping at Mandalay Bay

The day started early. Jacki and Darian were flying to Texas and I was off to Vegas. We got to the airport around 6:45am and we went to our different flights. I got to Vegas about 9:30am and checked into the hotel. I stayed at the Aladdin which is about 3 Vegas blocks from the Mandalay Bay. I attempted to get some sleep but was restless even though I only had about 4 hours of sleep. I hung out in the hotel room until about 12:30.

The one thing I told myself is I wouldn't get stuck in the casino, but when I checked in they gave me $10 of slot play. I burned through that and then burned through another 40 bucks and decided no more gambling. Off to Mandalay Bay.

It was hot by the time I got outside. Easily 95 degrees, but a dry heat :-). After a good 25 minutes of walking and catching trams I got to the hotel. I walked through the casino and found the restaurant area. As I was eating I started to see people walking around with KISS shirts. I figured the only thing I was here for was the show, and although check in wasn't until 3pm, I didn't want to get lost in the casino. I found the area where check in for the seat fillers were supposed to be and arrived around 2:20pm. There were about 10 people there. The VH1 people said we were in the right place and they would start lining us up in abou 10-15 minutes.

They lined us up around 3pm. We were now in the first holding area. We spent about 30 minutes in the first room and then proceeded to the second room. Another 30 minutes and then we received our wrist bands. And then to the next room. 2 more hours of waiting. As we walked into this room I was asked how I found out about the event. I said through the KISS website and then a guy handed me a KISS Thanks You card.

By the time it was time to go into the venue the last holding room had at least a couple of thousand people. It was unreal how many seat fillers were there for this thing. Clearly VH1 didn't sell too many tickets.

They had the Pit lines, which I was in, Red carpet lines and then seat fillers for filling the the unfilled arena seats.

Getting there early paid off. I ended up being the 10th in a line of a couple of thousand. Around 6:15 they finally took us over to the event. We passed the red carpet, although it was black. And then they lined us up in the concourse of the arena. Soundcheck was occuring so another round of waiting.

We could hear the set up from the arena. Tie Your Mother Down by Queen started playing but you could tell Dave Grohl was singing. Sounded great. Then the next Queen song soundchecked was Under Pressure then the Show Must Go On, Paul Rodgers was no singing.

We then got lined up at the curtain and could peak into the arena. We saw the final soundcheck of We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions with the Foo guys on drums with Queen. After they finished they finally took us to the floor.

Fortunately my place in line was maintained and I ended up being the 10th person into the arena and down to the floow. I ended up getting a spot against the stage right in front of where Gene Simmons would be later in the night.

As the crowd came in Vince Neil sat up with his wife in the lower part of the arena. Needless to say all you saw was him shaking people's hands and taking pictures. After just about everyone in the section had done this he was finally able to sit and enjoy the show like the rest of us.

Around 8pm the familiar voice of Riki Rachtman came on and warmed up the crowd. The show started around 8:15.

The stage was set up with 3 drum kits, 1 for dave Grohl, 1 for Queen, and 1 for Taylor Hawkins.
The night kicked off with Foo Fighters and they proceeded to play through the songs that were soundchecked.

Foo Fighters -
Tie Your Mother Down (joined by Brian May and Roger Taylor)

Queen -
Under Pressure
Show Must Go On
We Will Rock You (joined by Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins)
We Are The Champions

When Paul Rodgers came out and started singing Under Pressure he came over and shook my hand. I know a lot of people have given him flack for singing Queen but the songs they played were amazing. Great energy and good performances. Having soundchecked last they had the benefit of having near perfect sound.

As Queen wrapped the stage rotated and Godsmack appeared with gear fully set up. I wish all set changes could be this quick. 3 minutes later and Godsmack was up. Godsmack was playing a tribute to Judas Priest.

Godsmack -
Hellion / Electric Eye
Victim of Changes
Hell Bent For Leather

Another stage rotation and the mighty Priest appeared. I had never seen Judas Priest so this was one of the parts of the night I was looking forward to. They came out and sounded great.

Judas Priest -
Breakin The Law
You've Got Another Thing Coming
Green Manalishi With The Two Pronged Crown

The odd band out for the night came on next, All American Rejects. As they were setting up the guitarist noticed his guitar wasn't in tune. They had about 1 minute before th filming started again so he ran off stage to his guitar tech. The tech tuned and gave him back the guitar. As he came back over in front of me the bassist pointed out that he still wasn't in tune. And at this time the VH1 people did the countdown to being back on-air 5-4-3-2-1. A slightly out of tune guitar to a song that you could really tell.

All American Rejects -

Maybe they will fix the out of tune guitar in post editing. The intro of the song and the guitar solo were noticeably out of tune. And all the guitarist could do was give a look like oh well nothing I can do now. At least he was grinning about it.

Another stage rotation to Def Leppard.

Def Leppard
Rock Of Ages
Rocket (w/ extremely extended guitar solos)
20th Century Boy (joined by Brian May of Queen)

During the Def Leppard set a girl squeezed her way to the front right next to me. Needless to say the VH1 cameras liked her and she got the attention of the band. During 20th Century Boy Joe Elliot came and grabbed her hand, I'm pretty sure this was caught but the cameras so you will see me on VH1 right next to her.

Next up was the Tribute band to KISS. There was a rumor that Ace Frehley would be joining so the KISS fans were quite anxious. Out came Slash, Rob Zombie, Tommy Lee, Scott Ian and Gilby Clarke. As they started the announced special guest Ace Frehley and launched into God Of Thunder. Scott Ian was liked an animated comic book character on stage. He was playing a Gene axe bass and did his best Gene impressions.

Tribute -
God Of Thunder

And then the reason that most of the people on the floor were there. KISS. They had the biggest stage set up with the big KISS sign and a scaled down version of their full stage set up. The audio mix was geared for Gene so most of what I heard was Gene's bass. A very interesting mix.

Detroit Rock City
Love Gun
Makin' Love

I didn't realize this was going to be the case but the night was all a build up to KISS. They also delivered a great set by not throwing in the usual TV friendly tapings of Rock And Roll All Nite or Shout It Out Loud.

As the show ended the other bands came out for a final bow.

Def Leppard, Queen, KISS, and Judas Priest were all on stage. When everyone was on stage the crowd started chanting one more song. Jamie Pressley, the host of the entire night, started to ask on her mike, can they play one more song. She got the ok and KISS set back up and the stage cleared.

KISS played Makin Love for their encore. Paul had to ask Tommy what album it was on, and with Tommy's help got the album, Rock And Roll Over, correct.

The show ended around 10:45. Back to the Aladdin and I caught a cab back to the airport around 6am.

The VH1 Rock Honors airs next Wednesday. Considering I was against the stage and had a camera in my face a good portion of the night odds are high I'll be on tv. I'm sure I look like a fool, but it was fun.

As you can see I took some great pictures, although on a crappy camera. A few are mixed in this entry and the rest are on flickr.

So 4 days before the show I had no idea I'd be seeing KISS much less any of these other bands from the front row in Las Vegas. Thank you KISS and VH1. The night couldn't have gone any better.

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